29 Jul The Life Saver
Gerry Dworkin spends a lot of time simulating real-world rescue situations involving water and ice: saving mannequins from submerged vehicles, battling dangerous surf, breaking holes in ice, plunging into frigid water… you get the picture. “The goal is to train as many first responders as possible,” he says.
Gerry, an active firefighter, and his wife, Donna, operate Lifesaving Resources LLC, which focuses on aquatics safety, water rescue, swiftwater rescue and ice rescue. In the small coastal town of Cape Porpoise, Maine, Gerry teaches and certifies instructors from throughout the U.S. and other countries who go back to their respective departments and train their own police, fire, EMS or lifeguard personnel. “When you have a water emergency, the first person on the scene needs to be able to assess the situation and know what to do, safely,” says Gerry. “Every passing moment reduces the chances of survival for the victim and increases the danger to the rescue personnel.”
All of this training requires a lot of specialized equipment—a trailerful of drysuits, wetsuits, rescue baskets, inflatable boats, an 80-pound “victim” mannequin called Bob, and much more. Gerry’s choice for hauling that loaded-up trailer? A 2011 Ford F-150.
“I grew up with Ford,” says Gerry. “My first car was a 1959 Ford Fairlane. I’ll never forget it.” He also proudly owned a 1966 Mustang and a 1969 Mustang Mach 1 back in the day.
His first foray into water safety came while working summers as a lifeguard during high school and college in Connecticut. “I was always interested in doing good,” he says. Upon graduation he was recruited by the Red Cross, where he was responsible for the development and administration of Water Safety, Boating Safety, First Aid, and CPR training programs for 14 years. He also became a volunteer fireman during that time and experienced the challenges of water and ice rescues firsthand. That’s why he and Donna, who runs the administrative side of the business, established Lifesaving Resources in 1985. “Each drowning case is more tragic than the one before it,” Gerry laments.
After driving competitors’ pickups for a few years, he decided to give Ford a try again. He purchased his 2011 Ford F-150 new, and after years of consistent performance, “I’m happy to say it’s the best truck I’ve ever owned,” Gerry says, smiling.
Gerry has served on the board of directors for the National Drowning Prevention Alliance the American Red Cross, the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and the Westchester (NY) Emergency Medical Services Council. He is currently a Firefighter with the Kennebunkport Fire Department in Maine, and serves on the Board of the Atlantic Volunteer Engine Company.
He has authored over 40 articles, has written several water rescue and ice rescue guidebooks, and has appeared as a subject matter expert for numerous television news broadcasts. If you wonder what keeps him motivated after 40 years, his answer is simple: “From time to time, we get a call from someone we’ve trained and they tell us about a successful rescue,” Gerry says. “It’s a great feeling.”